The view from the downstairs bedroom window was, to put it mildly, not exactly exhilarating. Glancing to the left, one could see an old stone wall about four feet high which had been extended to a height of about ten feet with breezeblocks. Fortunately, this wall was by now largely covered with moss and lichen so it looked a little less prison-like and the mature lilac tree and large hydrangea were doing their best to screen it. To the right, one looked across the courtyard towards the well. But the real problem was the view straight ahead.
wall of the largest shed (the garage for a ‘very small car', as
Monsieur Detroit had jested) stood some twelve or thirteen feet away.
That in itself would have been bad enough but rectifiable without too
much difficulty. What made matters worse was the large gas tank that
had been positioned just behind the shed. In all fairness, there really
was nowhere better that it could have been placed, but improve the view
it did not. It stood there like a small petrol tanker, drawing the eye
every time I looked out of the window. This really was not what we
wanted for our hoped-for paying guests.
Between the gas tank and the window was a flowerbed. Well, we assumed
when we bought the house that it was a flowerbed as it didn't seem to be
covered in chippings or concrete. When we dug through the dead leaves
we found we were right: there was earth under there. But there was a
strange post rising from the middle of this flowerbed.
just over three feet high, but its height had been reduced by fifteen
inches or so when somebody had sawed down it from the top and bent the
resulting four arms out like spokes. Presumably these had once
supported a tabletop, but who would want a picnic table in the middle of
a flowerbed? Or maybe it had been a bird table, but if so, it must
have been a table strong enough for an eagle or a vulture.
it had to go. I gave it a shake; or rather I tried to give it a shake
to see if it was likely to come up fairly easily. It didn't move, so I
fetched a spade and prodded around at the base. The spade struck
something solid. The post had been sunk into concrete, which I
discovered extended almost two feet in every direction from the post.
If the diameter of the top was four feet, how far down did this concrete
block extend? I wondered.
I dug around it and eventually managed
to rock the post gently from side to side, but it took the combined
efforts of Chris, Alan and me to prise it from the ground – in between
scraping the hall floor, checking the septic tank and installing the new
light fitting. Two days later, I had recovered enough strength to
start attacking the concrete with a sledgehammer, but it was to be more
than a year before I had reduced it to small enough lumps to blend in
with the chippings covering the courtyard.